Summary report, 4 December 2010

Cancún Oceans Day at COP 16

The Cancún Oceans Day event convened at the Now Jade Riviera Hotel, in Cancún, Mexico, on 4 December 2010. Organized by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, in association with the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Secretaries of Environment and Natural Resources of the Mexican States of Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Yucatan, and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), Mexico, in collaboration with other partners, Cancún, Oceans Day met in parallel to the UN Cancún Climate Change Conference. This event was the second Oceans Day in the UNFCCC context, and featured more than 20 speakers and panelists. Over 90 participants registered to attend the one-day meeting, including representatives of governments, international organizations, business, academia, and non-governmental organizations. Cancún Oceans Day was part of the Rio Conventions’ Ecosystems and Climate Change Pavilion, organized by CBD, UNFCCC, and UNCCD. Cancún Oceans Day featured: three panel discussions; two special addresses; and three workshops on developing an integrated approach to climate and oceans and preparation for Rio+20. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions during the one-day event.


Climate change is considered to be one of the most serious threats to sustainable development, with adverse impacts expected on the environment, human health, food security, economic activity, natural resources, and physical infrastructure. While the global climate varies naturally, scientists agree that rising concentrations of anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the Earth’s atmosphere are leading to changes beyond this range of climate variability.

Climate change is also having a profound impact on the world’s oceans. Ocean warming directly impacts humans and ocean life – from sea level rise and increased storm intensity to habitat shifts and receding coastlines. This in turn disrupts ocean and coastal foodwebs, making it harder for fish, seabirds, and humans to find food necessary for survival. These changes drastically impact vulnerable coastal areas, sometimes resulting in loss of life, damage to infrastructure, the economy, tourism and fisheries, and possible displacement of populations.

In addition, the oceans absorbed approximately 30-50% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by humans over the last 200 years, resulting in ocean acidification with substantial impacts on ocean chemistry and life. All these likely impacts increase the need for appropriate response measures.

THE THIRD GLOBAL CONFERENCE: The Third Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, which had as its theme “Moving the Global Oceans Agenda Forward,” was held in Paris, France, from 24-27 January 2006. The meeting sought to accelerate progress in achieving international ocean policy targets, especially those related to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and the Millennium Development Goals. Participants also examined two major emerging ocean policy issues: high seas governance; and the wide-ranging effects of climate change on oceans and coastal environments.

THE FOURTH GLOBAL CONFERENCE: The Fourth Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, “Advancing Ecosystem Management and Integrated Coastal and Ocean Management by 2010 in the Context of Climate Change,” took place in Hanoi, Viet Nam, from 7-11 April 2008. The meeting provided a review of successes and failures in attaining the goals adopted by the world’s political leaders at the 2002 WSSD relating to oceans management and conservation in the context of climate change. The Conference was organized around three major themes: achieving ecosystem management and integrated coastal and ocean management by 2010; climate, oceans, and security: addressing impacts in vulnerable ecosystems and in vulnerable coastal communities, especially in small island developing States (SIDS); and the governance of marine ecosystems and uses in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

THE WORLD OCEAN CONFERENCE: The World Ocean Conference in Manado, Indonesia, took place from 11-15 May 2009. The primary outcome of the meeting was the Manado Oceans Declaration, which was signed by 76 governments and stressed the importance of having oceans on the climate change agenda at the Fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 15) in Copenhagen, Denmark, and beyond. The Manado Global Ocean Policy Day (13 May), a multistakeholder dialogue organized by the Global Forum and partners, produced the Co-Chairs’ Statement Emanating from the Global Ocean Policy Day which detailed major ocean, coastal, and SIDS issues related to climate change mitigation, adaptation, financing, capacity development, and civil society.

COPENHAGEN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, took place from 7-19 December 2009. It included COP 15 and the Fifth Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 5). What many characterized as “intense negotiations” took place over the two weeks at the level of experts, Ministers and Heads of State. Over 110 world leaders attended the joint COP and COP/MOP high-level segment from 16-18 December. During the meeting, differences emerged on, inter alia, whether work should be carried out in a smaller “Friends of the Chair” format or in open contact groups. During the high-level segment, informal negotiations took place in a group consisting of major economies and representatives of regional and other negotiating groups. Late on Friday evening (19 December), these talks resulted in a political agreement titled the “Copenhagen Accord.” During the closing COP plenary, parties agreed to adopt a COP decision whereby the COP “takes note” of the Copenhagen Accord. Parties also established a procedure for countries supporting the Copenhagen Accord to accede to it.

OCEANS DAY IN COPENHAGEN: On the sideline of COP 15, the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, the Government of Indonesia, and the European Environment Agency organized a special day on 14 December 2009, to stress the central role of oceans in the Earth’s life-support system and to address threats faced by coastal communities, especially in developing nations and SIDS. Oceans Day highlighted the direct link between climate change, ocean health and human wellbeing. The Day brought together 320 participants representing governments, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, scientists, and industry from 40 countries to focus on the role of the oceans in climate change and the fact that the close to 50% of the world’s population living in coastal areas will suffer disproportionately from ocean warming, sea level rise, extreme weather events, and ocean acidification.

THE FIFTH GLOBAL CONFERENCE: The Fifth Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, was organized around three thematic sessions: ensuring survival, as it relates to oceans, climate and security and major issues in mitigation, adaptation, and financing in the post-Copenhagen climate regime; preserving life; and improving governance. It took place at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization headquarters in Paris, France, from 3-7 May 2010. The event also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the International Year of Biodiversity 2010. It brought together over 850 participants from 80 countries (63% of which were developing countries and SIDS), including leaders from governments, UN and other international agencies, NGOs, industry, oceans donors, organized science groups, and networks of museums and aquaria.

OCEANS DAY IN NAGOYA: On the sideline of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) COP 10, the Oceans Day at Nagoya took place on 23 October 2010 and built on discussions about marine and coastal biodiversity held at the Fifth Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands. The day brought together participants from all sectors of the global oceans community, and the major outcome was the Nagoya Oceans Statement which called on governments participating in the CBD COP 10 to request a process for setting new marine and coastal biodiversity targets at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development 2012 (Rio+20) and at the CBD COP 11 in 2012 to move the marine biodiversity agenda forward.



Biliana Cicin-Sain, Co-Chair and Head of Secretariat, Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, welcomed participants to Oceans Day at Cancún. She said oceans are vital to human life and climate, emphasizing that if sufficient GHG emission reductions do not occur rapidly, the consequences will be disastrous. She also noted the need for the UNFCCC process to be aware of oceans issues as they relate to climate and not treat oceans as a “sectoral nuisance.”

Cicin-Sain said the purpose of Oceans Day is to review the “building blocks” of a comprehensive strategy on oceans and climate, and that the building blocks include mitigation, adaptation, financing, and capacity building. She then noted the need to discuss how: the strategy can be advanced; the building blocks jointly enhance the resilience of ocean ecosystems and coastal communities; to collaborate effectively in order to have an impact in the UNFCCC process; and to join forces in the Rio+20 process to discern and underline the role of oceans in achieving a low-carbon economy.

Co-Chair Evelia Rivera Arriaga, Secretary, Environment and Sustainable Development, State of Campeche, Mexico, discussed how ocean temperature and currents are inextricably linked to that of the atmospheric temperature and conditions. She then explained ways in which coastal zones are impacted by temperature rise, including: coastal infrastructure destruction; salt water intrusion of aquifers; sea level rise; changes to global ocean conveyor circulation; ocean acidification; and coral bleaching. She emphasized the need to act now in terms of mitigation, adaptation, technology, and finance.

Co-Chair Amb. Ronald Jumeau, Permanent Representative of Seychelles to the United Nations, said “climate change is always one step ahead” of development planning, explaining that Seychelles’ desalinization plants can no longer meet demand because rainfall has reduced significantly. He described the difficult tradeoffs his country must now make between water provision and food provision, and the challenges in balancing sustainable development with sustaining the tourist industry. Without immediate adaptation funding, he said Seychelles faces the threat of becoming a “failed island state.”

After saying that Oceans Day represented the collaboration between the Rio conventions, David Ainsworth, CBD, spoke on behalf of Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the CBD, noting that CBD COP 10 called on parties to address the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. He underlined the CBD’s goal to minimize anthropogenic impacts on oceans, including acidification by 2015.

Letitia Obeng, President, Global Water Partnership, said water is taken for granted and called for greater integration of water management and funding into development planning.


IMPLEMENTATION AND FINANCING STRATEGIES FOR MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON COASTAL COMMUNITIES AND SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES: Festus Luboyera, UNFCCC, chaired the event. Mannava Sivakumar, World Meteorological Organization highlighted the Storm Surge Watch Scheme and the need for increased inundation forecasting services.

Denis Vasseur, French GEF, discussed ways in which his organization is funding projects related to climate change mitigation and adaption in coastal communities and SIDS, including through financing innovative infrastructure adaptation in Vanuatu.

Janot-Reine Mendler de Suarez, former project coordinator for the GEF IW:LEARN, said the best cost estimates for adaptation are fragmented and incomplete, and underscored the need for the UNFCCC commitments on adaptation financing to be increased and prioritized to help the most vulnerable half of humanity living in the coastal zones.

Grit Martinez, Ecologic Institute, described the regional adaptation strategies for the Baltic Sea, explaining that the Baltic Sea is one of the most polluted regional seas in the world due to eutrophication. She said her programme focuses on science, economics and developing synergies with international partner regions. Toni Ruchimat, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia, discussed the efforts to address climate change through national laws and policies, and spoke on Indonesia’s current adaptive capacity and disaster risk reduction plans.

Sara Aminzadeh, California Coastkeeper Alliance, discussed adaptation strategies at the community level in California, highlighting case studies in Orange County and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Emmanuel Guérin, Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, noted, inter alia, that: the UNFCCC process has suffered since Copenhagen; the long-term goal to reduce CO2 must take into account ocean acidification; and oceans must be included in the Copenhagen Accord’s sections on adaptation and mitigation.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND OCEAN ACIDIFICATION: Tony Haymet, Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said research shows a correlation between the rise of atmospheric CO2, an increase in seawater partial pressure of CO2, and the decrease in seawater pH. He said that in turn these ocean biochemical changes reduce carbonate concentrations leading to the decalcification and then death of various marine organisms. He described efforts to develop regional and global networks and robots for monitoring these biochemical changes.

Carol Turley, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, chaired the panel and underlined the magnitude and significance of species loss due to decalcification. She said ocean acidification will gravely impact food security, coral reef ecosystems and some organisms’ sensory systems. She concluded that stabilization of ocean biochemistry requires large reductions in emissions and that significant mitigation can quickly reverse ocean acidification.

Ellycia Harrould-Kolieb, Oceana, explained ways to bring ocean acidification into UNFCCC policy discussions, focusing on identification of biochemical targets and indicators. She said iron fertilization has a high risk of contributing to ocean acidification and strongly recommended rejecting geo-engineering as a climate change solution.

Rejoice Mabudafhasi, Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, South Africa, then provided a special address. Noting that South Africa is bounded by the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, Mabudafhasi highlighted this close proximity as a reason why she feels strongly that the UNFCCC discussions and negotiations should include the oceans, adding that many livelihoods depend on them. Mabudafhasi underscored the linkages between oceans and climate change, highlighted oceans and coastal areas as important climate sinks, and said that when estuaries, salt marshes, mangroves, sea grasses, and coral reefs are effectively managed the co-benefits include food security and carbon sequestration. She underlined the importance of bringing the voice of traditional knowledge into climate change adaptation discussions and cautioned against “extreme” solutions such as ocean fertilization.

LINKING THE SCIENCE AND ECONOMICS OF BLUE CARBON: Brian Murray, Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, chaired the session and discussed carbon storage in mangroves, seagrasses, and salt marshes. He noted the parallels between applying the concepts of REDD to blue carbon, carbon captured by marine living organisms, and said global climate mitigation efforts could change economic incentives for coastal protection. He then spoke on the economics of conservation, comparing the market value of blue carbon to the cost of protection (direct and opportunity). In a study comparing mangroves and shrimp farming, he said the break-even price for blue carbon was US$10-12 per ton CO2 equivalents.

Stephen Crooks, ESA PWA Consulting, said emissions from degradation of coastal wetlands have not been properly accounted for and that these systems are highly vulnerable to land use change, particularly drainage. He also described the work to develop a potential voluntary market for tidal wetlands in the U.S., by creating GHG offsets through tidal wetlands restoration and management.

Dorothée Herr, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, emphasized that: coastal ecosystems are unaccounted natural carbon sinks and sources, if lost and degraded; coastal ecosystems are lost and degraded at high rates; management of coastal ecosystems is a complement to a global approach to natural carbon management for climate change mitigation; and policy mechanisms for coastal management activities are readily available.

Hendra Yusran Siry, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia, discussed the challenges and opportunities for blue carbon in Indonesia. On challenges, Siry highlighted: scientific gaps; maintaining and restoring the health of ecosystems and preventing habitat loss; and distinguishing blue carbon from current conservation or development activities. On potential opportunities, he highlighted his government’s high-level policy support for pursuing blue carbon.

In the discussion, participants highlighted the importance of developing carbon-accounting methodologies for mangrove ecosystems before mangroves can enter the REDD scheme, and the challenges to measuring soil carbon in tidal systems.


Co-Chair Biliana Cicin-Sain provided an overview of work to develop an integrated approach to climate and oceans and preparation for Rio+20, and requested participants to divide into three breakout sessions: mitigation; adaptation, financing and capacity building; and Rio+20. Participants then heard reports from the workshop participants.

The workshop on mitigation discussed various topics, including: building links with water policy; increasing quantified data on blue carbon and not inflating non-robust data; the need for REDD+ capacity development at the national level; the desire for regulatory targets for the shipping industry; the risks of CO2 injections and carbon capture and storage; the need to valuate ocean acidification; user conflicts; the need for marine spatial planning; the potential to use the UNFCCC to stimulate off-shore renewable energy development; and the need to bring the private sector into policy development.

The workshop on adaptation, financing and capacity building focused on, inter alia: international support for early warning and action systems; empowering communities; insurance mechanisms as preventative tools; and up-scaling Fast Start funding pilots.

The workshop on Rio+20 summarized elements of the road to Rio+20, and discussed various needs, including: inclusion of mangroves in a REDD mechanism; an oceans, coasts and islands fund; greater support for education; incorporation of climate change into the Law of the Sea; further discussion of building an ocean convention to increase the presence of marine issues; identifying the costs of inaction; and addressing user and access rights.

In a special address, Antonio Diaz de Leon, Environment and Natural Resources Ministry, Mexico, explained why it is difficult to achieve targets set out in multilateral environmental negotiations, such as the UNFCCC process, noting that it not only involves solving a pervasive environmental problem, but also involves an economic fight over what countries and people will shoulder the costs of solving the problem. He said it is therefore important to: talk in the language of market instruments; valuate the cost of inaction, action and information; and promote leadership and champions at all levels.


Noting that progress on oceans-related issues are slow but tangible, Co-Chair Biliana Cicin-Sain emphasized the need for the oceans community to be persistent and continue helping solve the problems at hand. She noted that she was heartened by progress in a number of areas, most notably the increasing attention to ocean acidification, conceptual development of blue carbon and increasing high-level attention to oceans.

Co-Chair Evelia Rivera Arriaga thanked everyone for their effort and enthusiasm and underscored the continued need to promote the oceans and coasts at all levels.


Joint IPCC WGI and WGII Expert Meeting on Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Marine Biology and Ecosystems: Given progress and increasing interest from stakeholders in understanding the implications of ocean acidification, this Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Expert Meeting will discuss the rapidly advancing scientific findings on ocean acidification and its impacts since the publication of its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), and will provide scientific information as an input to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). dates: 17-19 January 2011  location: Okinawa, Japan  contact: IPCC WG II - Technical Support Unit  phone: +1 650-462-1047; +1 650-462-1047 x 229  fax: +1 650-462-5968  e-mail: www:  

International Forum: Sustainable Management of the Gulf of Mexico´s Living Marine Resources: The forum will identify policy and define actions and guidelines for ecosystem-based management approaches to Living Marine Resources. dates: 21-23 February 2011 location: Veracruz, México contact: Porfirio Alvarez-Torres phone: +55-5628-0701 www:

Global Tourism Forum: Organized by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), this meeting will convene under the theme “Building New Models for Tourism Growth: Competitiveness and Responsibility.” It will be the first meeting of all the major players from the tourism sector, public and private, as well as academia and civil society, allowing the tourism community to reach out beyond the sector and demonstrate its role in the post-crisis sustainable recovery, climate change, and fair and inclusive development. dates: 6-7 March 2011  location: Andorra La Vella, Andorra  contact: UNWTO communications programme  phone: +34-91 567 8100; +34-91 567 8100 fax: +34-91 567 82 18  e-mail: www:  

Pacific Climate Change Roundtable: This meeting will discuss the issue of mobilizing climate change funding in the region. dates: 14-18 March 2011  location: TBA  additional: Alofi, Niue  phone: +685-219-29; +685-219-29 fax: +685-202-31  e-mail:  www:  

IPCC-33: The 33rd session of the IPCC is expected to take place in late April or early May. date: TBD location: United Arab Emirates contact: IPCC Secretariat phone: +41-22-730-8208/ 54/ 84 fax: +41-22-730-8025/ 13 email: www:

4th Ad hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to Study Issues Relating to the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity Beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction: dates: 31 May - 3 June 2011 location: to be announced contact: DOALOS phone: +1-212-963-3969 fax: +1-212-963-5847 email: www:

World Oceans Day: Initiated at the UNCED Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, World Oceans Day was officially designated as 8 June from 2009 forward by the UN General Assembly (resolution 63/111, paragraph 171). The 2011 theme has yet to be determined. dates: 8 June 2011 location: UN Headquarters in New York and concurrent events around the world contact: DOALOS phone: +1-212-963-3969 fax: +1-212-963-5847 www:

12th Meeting of the Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea: The Consultative Process evaluates developments in oceans affairs and the law of the sea, considering the UN Secretary-General’s annual report. dates: 20-24 June 2011 location: UN Headquarters in New York contact: DOALOS phone: +1-212-963-3969 fax: +1-212-963-5847 email: www:

Joint IPCC Expert Meeting of WGI, WGII and WGIII on Geo-engineering: This IPCC Expert Meeting will provide a platform for exchange and discussion among experts from the different disciplines in order to better address geo-engineering, and encourage the consistent treatment of geo-engineering options across the Working Group AR5 assessments. dates: 20-21 June 2011 location: Peru contact: IPCC WG II Technical Support Unit phone: +1 650-462-1047; +1 650-462 1047x 229 fax: +1 650-462-5968 e-mail: tsu@ipcc-wg2.govwww:

IPCC-34 and Approval of the Special Report on Extreme Events and Disasters: The 34th session of the IPCC and approval of the Special Report on Extreme Events and Disasters are expected to take place in the last quarter of 2011. The Special Report is expected to be considered in September, and IPCC 34 may follow this meeting. dates: 26-30 September 2011  location: to be announced www:

WCRP Open Science Conference: The World Climate Research Programme’s conference will gather the international scientific community working to advance understanding and prediction of variability and change of the Earth’s physical climate system on all space and time scales. The Programme is sponsored by the International Council for Science, the World Meteorological Organization and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. dates: 24-28 October 2011  location: Denver (Colorado), United States of America  www:

17th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 17):dates: 28 November – 9 December 2011 location: Durban, South Africa e-mail: www:

Sixth Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands: This meeting will assess the status of and issues in ocean governance, including climate change responses, and provide a vision for action on the green economy and international environmental governance, in conjunction with Rio+20. dates: March 2012 location: TBA email: www:

UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD): This meeting is also referred to as Rio+20. The UN General Assembly, in December 2009, adopted a resolution calling for a UNCSD to be convened in Brazil in 2012. This meeting will mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), which convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The General Assembly resolution specified that a three-day PrepCom was to convene in May 2010, a two-day PrepCom should convene in February-March 2011, and a three-day PrepCom should convene immediately before UNCSD. dates: 14-16 May 2012 [tentative]  location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  e-mail:  www:

The Oceans Day Bulletin Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <>. This issue was written and edited by Robynne Boyd and Liz Willetts. The Editor is Graeme Auld <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11A, New York, New York 10022, United States of America.


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Small Island Developing States
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